Shutting Up the Word and Fighting Against the Work







Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, and more specifically, is found in the first fifteen verses of the thirty-second chapter. A CITY BESIEGED AND A PROPHET SHUT UP IN PRISON! When this particular passage of Scripture opens, it opens up in a rather unique way, for it opens with the city of Jerusalem under siege by the army of Babylon. Not only was the city of Jerusalem under siege, but we also find the prophet of the Lord shut up in the court of the prison. As the prophetic book of Jeremiah progresses, we find two distinct dynamics taking place within the earth. On the one hand we find the city of Jerusalem come under siege by the Babylonian army on more than one occasion, while on the other hand we find the prophet persecuted and oppressed on more than one occasion. It’s interesting to note that the reason Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison was because of the message he prophesied concerning Jerusalem—and not just concerning Jerusalem, but concerning Zedekiah. Consider what the prophet Jeremiah recounts beginning with the third verse of this particular chapter—“For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; and Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes; and he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, saith the Lord: Though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper” (Jeremiah 32:3-5). It was precisely because of the prophetic word(s) which Jeremiah uttered in the hearing and in the presence of Zedekiah that he personally had Jeremiah shut up in the court of the prison. What’s more alarming and disturbing concerning this particular reality is that the prophet of the Lord was shut up when the enemy and adversary surrounded the city. WHEN THE PROPHET IS SHUT UP WHILE THE ADVERSARY SURROUNDS THE CITY! What an absolutely incredible thought it is to consider that while the adversary was outside the walls of the city, the prophet was shut up within. While the enemy was outside the gates of the city, the prophet was shut up within. I can’t help but see a powerful dynamic and spiritual truth contained within this particular passage of Scripture. That dynamic is that while the adversary was outside the gates of the city, the prophet of the Lord was shut up in the midst of the land. While the adversary was outside the walls of the city, the prophet of the Lord was shut up in the midst of the city. Does it strike you as odd that during a time of crises and calamity—instead of the word of the Lord being free to move and operate in the midst of that calamity, the word of God is instead bound up and shut up in the court of the prison. During a time when the enemy was at the gates of the city, the prophet of the Lord was shut up in the court of the prison, thus limiting his movement within the city. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance of this concept, for it reveals something absolutely incredible within our own lives. I can’t help but wonder how many times we as individuals shut up the movement and operation of the word of the Lord when the adversary and enemy is at the gates of the city. How many times have we been guilty of shutting up—or at least attempting to shut up—the movement and operation of the word of the Lord within the land rather than allowing it to move freely? Consider how absolutely and utterly absurd it is that instead of allowing the prophetic word of the Lord to move freely within and throughout the land during a time of calamity and crises, we instead choose to shut up that word within our lives. During a time when the word of God should move freely within our lives, we instead choose to shut it up in a place where it is unable to move. The more I consider the reality of the prophet being shut up in the court of the prison, the more I can’t help but consider that it was Zedekiah’s aim and desire to limit the movement of Jeremiah. If Zedekiah was able to confine Jeremiah within the court of the prison, he could limit and restrict his movement within and throughout the land. Zedekiah undoubtedly didn’t want Jeremiah to be able to move freely throughout the city of Jerusalem, for so long as he was free to move within and throughout the city, he could continue to proclaim the word of the Lord in the hearing of those who remained in the city. With Jeremiah shut up in the court of the prison, Zedekiah could control and monitor that which the inhabitants of the city could hear during that time. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance of this, for this same reality and dynamic still takes place in this generation.

 In a time when the prophetic word of the Lord should be able to move freely within and throughout the land, there are those who choose to shut it up in a certain and specific place. In a time when the movement of the Spirit should be free to go in any direction it should, many choose to limit and restrict it. There are men and women who are aware of the enemy’s presence outside the gates of their homes, and yet they choose to limit and restrict the movement of the Spirit within their lives. There are men and women who are aware of the enemy’s presence outside the walls of their marriages and families, and yet they choose to deliberately and intentionally shut up the word of the Lord within their lives. There are even churches and ministries that are aware of the enemy’s presence outside the city, yet they choose to restrict the movement and operation of the Spirit of the Lord. What’s more, is that they not only choose to restrict and limit the movement and operation of the Spirit, but they also choose to restrict and limit the movement of the word of the Lord and the word of God. There are ministers and leaders who are aware of the presence of the adversary outside the walls and gates, and yet instead of allowing the word of the Lord to move freely in the midst of the people of God, they choose to shut it up. As I am sitting here thinking about and considering the fact that Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison, I can’t help but think that Zedekiah was making every attempt to control and curb that which the people of Jerusalem could and would hear during that time. There is not a doubt in my mind that Zedekiah wasn’t aware of the presence of the enemy outside the walls and gates of the city, for Jeremiah records and recounts how the army of Babylon laid siege to the city. What marks this passage as so incredibly unique and powerful is that we are confronted with the reality of the word of the Lord colliding with the fulfillment of that word. Zedekiah was experiencing the manifestation of fulfillment of that which Jeremiah had been prophesying for years, but he was also experiencing the current and present word of the Lord. It’s worth noting that not only was Jerusalem experiencing and encountering the fulfillment of the prophetic word of the Lord, but they were also experiencing the continued word of the Lord being manifested in their midst. There was the prophetic word which had already been spoken; there was the prophetic word which was being spoken; and there was the prophetic word which had yet to be spoken. It’s absolutely necessary that we understand these three dynamics, for when seeking to understand the word of the Lord, it’s important to note that the word of the Lord has a past declaration, a present experience, and a future expectation.

 Undoubtedly Jeremiah had been prophesying for more than two decades at this time, and much of what he had prophesied and declared within the land of Judah was now beginning to come to pass. Despite the fact that Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison, he was undoubtedly aware of the presence of the adversary outside the walls and gates of the city. Let me ask you a question, and I need and would like you to be brutally honest with me. What do you do when the enemy has surrounded your marriage? What do you do when the enemy has surrounded your marriage and family? What do you do when the enemy has surrounded your job and your place of employment? What do you do when the enemy is at the gate and outside the walls? WHEN THE ENEMY IS AT THE GATE AND OUTSIDE THE WALLS! This particular passage revealed what Zedekiah did when the enemy was at the gate and outside the walls, for he shut up the prophet in the court of the prison. During that time when the enemy was at the gate and outside the walls Zedekiah chose to shut up Jeremiah in the court of the prison, thus preventing him from moving freely throughout the city. In essence, Zedekiah was unwilling to allow Jeremiah to move freely throughout the land, and thought that if he shut him up and secured him in the court of the prison, he could control the manifestation and proclamation of the word of the Lord. Despite the fact the enemy was at the gate and outside the wall, Zedekiah chose to shut up Jeremiah in the court of the prison. Consider how absolutely and incredibly absurd and insane it is to think and consider for one moment that you are able to somehow shut up the word of the Lord. Pause for one moment and think how absolutely crazy it is to think that you can limit the movement of the Spirit, and the movement of the word of the Lord in your life. Zedekiah actually believed that if he shut up Jeremiah in the court of the prison, he could control the movement and flow of the word of the Lord in the midst of the city. There are those who are concerned with the freedom and movement of the press, while there are others who are concerned with the freedom and movement of the word of the Lord and the ministry of the Spirit. I would absolutely love to know what was going through the mind of Zedekiah for him to think that he could shut up Jeremiah in the court of the prison, and by doing so, he could control the release and flow of the word of the Lord. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many men and women in this generation think they can actually control the release and flow of the word of the Lord within their lives. I can’t help but wonder how many men and women right make every attempt to silence the voice and word of the Lord in their lives, and even attempt to do so during those times when the enemy is outside the walls and at the gates.

 As you read the first five verses of this chapter it’s interesting to note that not only was Zedekiah shutting up Jeremiah in the court of the prison, but he was also fighting with the Chaldeans. Please pay close attention to this, for as we have already seen in the prophetic writings of Jeremiah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem were instructed to submit themselves under the yoke of Babylon. The Lord instructed all in Jerusalem and all in Judah to go out and submit themselves to the king of Babylon so it might go well with them. All those who stubbornly refused to submit to the king of Babylon and remain in the city would suffer one or more of three distinct realities—famine, pestilence and the sword. The prophet Jeremiah spoke intensely and intently against making any attempt to fight against, resist, or make war against the king of Babylon. Jeremiah implicitly warned against making any attempt to resist the king of Babylon, for what was taking place within the land of Judah and outside the city of Jerusalem was ordained and appointed by the Lord. What the prophet Jeremiah was instructing the inhabitants of the land to do was submit themselves to that which was ordained and orchestrated by the Lord. Sure it was clothed and concealed in a foreign army marching against the city of Jerusalem, but that was the work which the Lord was performing in their midst. The Lord of hosts was instructing the inhabitants of the land to submit themselves to the yoke of the king of Babylon, for in doing so, they would actually submit themselves to an even greater yoke. Their submission to the king of Babylon wasn’t merely submission to an earthly king and ruler, but was submission to that which the Lord had ordained and appointed in the earth. Permit me to ask a simple yet profound question at this moment in time—how willing are you to submit yourself to the work of the Lord? Moreover, how willing are you to surrender yourself to the work of the Lord when that work seems to make absolutely no sense to you whatsoever? Submission to the king of Babylon might have seemed like utter and completely foolishness, yet the Lord of hosts promised through Jeremiah that through and according to their surrender they would find security, rest and peace for their souls. What we must recognize and understand is that those who submitted themselves to the king of Babylon weren’t submitting themselves to the king of Babylon more than they were submitting themselves to the Lord and to the world which He had ordained and appointed in the earth. I can’t help but wonder how many times the Lord will call us to submit ourselves to a work which seems to be utterly and completely absurd, and doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Tell me—are you willing to submit to the work and word of the Lord even though it may make absolutely no sense to you at this present moment in time?

 When I read this passage of Scripture, I not only find the king of Jerusalem shutting up the prophet of the Lord in the court of the prison, but I also find him fighting against the king of Babylon who was outside the walls and at the gates. SHUTTING UP THE WORD OF THE LORD IN THE COURT OF THE PRISON AND FIGHTING AGAINST THE WORK OF THE LORD! If there is one thing we must recognize and understand, it’s that by shutting up Jeremiah in the court of the prison, Zedekiah was making every attempt to control, limit and restrict the flow, the movement and the operation of the word of the Lord within the land. By fighting against the Chaldeans, Zedekiah was in all reality fighting against the word, the work and the will of the Lord, for Jeremiah had declared called the inhabitants of the land to submit to the king of Babylon rather than fighting against him. Tell me—how easy is it to do that within our lives? How easy is it to submit when everything inside us wants to fight against that which the Lord has spoken and ordained? How many times have you fought when you should you have submitted? How many times have you known and understood that which the Lord has spoken and decreed within your life, and instead of submitting to that very thing, you have instead chosen to fight against it? How many men and women right now are fighting when they should be submitting? If we are being honest with ourselves and with the Lord, it is much easier to fight and resist when we should be submitting—especially when submission doesn’t seem to make any sense at all. I am sure that submission to Nebuchadnezzar seemed to make absolutely no sense to Zedekiah, and perhaps even to countless other individuals present in that generation, and instead of submitting, they instead chose to resist and fight. It’s worth noting that by not submitting to Nebuchadnezzar they were actually choosing not to submit to the Lord. By fighting against Nebuchadnezzar, they were actually fighting against the Lord of hosts Himself, for it was He who decreed that which would befall the city and its inhabitants. It’s worth noting that in submission one would find rest, peace and security, while in resisting and fighting one would find famine, pestilence and the sword. Oh, how many men and women are willing to trade rest, peace, and security on the altar of resistance and fighting against that which the Lord has decreed? How many men and women have chosen to fight against that which the Lord has spoken and ordained rather than submitting wholeheartedly to it? Rather than submitting to that which the Lord had decreed and declared, Zedekiah chose to fight against, and even resist it.

 I believe there is an incredibly powerful prophetic truth that is contained within this passage, and that is there are countless times when instead of submitting ourselves to that which the Lord has decreed for us, we choose to fight against and resist it instead. What’s more, is that not only do we fight against that which promises rest and peace for our souls, we we also attempt to limit and restrict the movement and operation of the Spirit of the Lord within our lives. Zedekiah wasn’t merely guilty of shutting Jeremiah up in the court of the prison, for he was also guilty of fighting against the Chaldeans when he should have been submitting. Does this describe you right now? Do these words resonate within your heart and spirit, for instead of submitting yourself to the work, the word and the will of the Lord, you instead choose to fight against and resist it? Instead of allowing the ministry and movement of the Spirit to be free within your life, you attempt to limit and restrict it. Instead of allowing the word and voice of the Lord from moving freely within your life, you instead choose to restrict and prohibit it from having the freedom it was intended on having. Zedekiah was aware of the enemy and adversary outside the walls and present at the gate, and instead of submitting himself, he instead chose to fight against them and resist. Instead of heeding and paying attention to the word of the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah, Zedekiah had Jeremiah shut up in the court of the prison. This is only one of the multiple times those within the city of Jerusalem—including the king himself—would attempt to make to silence, shut up and secure the voice and word of the Lord. By shutting Jeremiah up in the court of the prison, Zedekiah thought and believed that he could somehow silence the voice and word of the Lord. Zedekiah was guilty of two evils within this chapter—the first being shutting Jeremiah up in the court of the prison, and the second being fighting against the Chaldeans which had laid siege to the city. Please pay close attention to this fact, for there are countless times when we as the people of God attempt to do the very same thing. There are countless times when we as the people of God attempt to silence the voice of the Lord by shutting it up in those places within our lives. There are times when instead of submitting ourselves to the Lord—instead of submitting ourselves to that which the Lord has instructed—we fight against and resist it. It’s worth noting that Zedekiah didn’t merely choose to resist the king of Babylon through insubordination, but he actually chose to fight against it. What’s more, is that Zedekiah wasn’t even aware of the fact that what he was doing was actually fighting against and resisting the Lord of hosts himself. Let us pay close attention to this fact, for it may reveal certain things within our own lives we are guilty of before the Lord.

 The enemy was outside the walls and the enemy was at the gate, and yet Zedekiah chose to fight against the army of Babylon. The enemy was outside the walls and was at the gate, and yet Zedekiah chose to shut up the prophet in the court of the Lord. It becomes quire clear that Zedekiah not only wanted to control and limit the movement of the prophetic ministry, but he also wanted to fight against and resist the plan and purpose of the Lord. What we must recognize and understand is that the army of Babylon entering into Judah, capturing all the fortified cities, and even laying siege to the city of Jerusalem was ordained and appointed by the Lord of hosts. I can’t help but get the strong sense that one of the single greatest needs we have within our lives is to possess discernment when it comes to recognizing and understanding that which the Lord is doing within our lives. The only thing Zedekiah could see with his natural eyes was an invading army surrounding the city and outside the walls and gates, and his natural instinct and inclination was to fight against and resist it. I do have to admit that fighting is more often than not so much easier than surrender and submission, for fighting is so much easier. How many times have we chosen to fight rather than submit because we believed that we would actually overtake and overcome that which is before us? Please understand that I am not speaking of fighting against and resisting the adversary, for there is both a time and a place for that. What I am speaking about is actually fighting against and resisting that which the Lord has ordained, orchestrated and appointed in the earth. Saul of Tarsus was guilty of this, for he actually believed that he was doing God a service by imprisoning and authorizing the death of Christians in that generation. It was while on the road to Damascus that he encountered the risen and exalted Christ, and he was asked why he kicked against the goads, and why he persecuted the Christ. Saul believed himself to be doing a service for the Lord, and yet what he was doing was actually fighting against and resisting Jesus Christ Himself. What he did to the body of Christ was done just as if it were being done to the actual and physical Jesus Christ who walked upon the earth. Zedekiah was guilty of fighting against and resisting the work and word of the Lord, for he refused to submit and surrender. Zedekiah refused to bring himself under the yoke of the king of Babylon, not recognizing that that yoke was actually ordained and appointed by the Lord. For Zedekiah, fighting against and resisting the king of Babylon seemed to make the most sense, yet little did he realize that what he was doing was actually fighting against and resisting the Lord of hosts Himself. Zedekiah was guilty of two evils in this passage, yet we dare not point the finger at him in judgment so quickly. We must recognize and understand that there have been countless times within our lives when we have been guilty of doing the very same thing. There have been countless times when throughout the course of our lives we have found ourselves fighting against and resisting the work, word and will of the Lord rather than submitting ourselves to it. There are and there have been countless times when we have attempted to shut up, restrict, limit and prohibit the movement and operation of the ministry and message of the Spirit of the Lord within our lives.

 Let me ask you a question—what do you do when the enemy is at the gate and outside the wall? Do you inquire of and seek the Lord, or do you attempt to shut up the voice and word of the Lord within your life? When the adversary and enemy is outside the walls of your life, and when the enemy is at the gates of your life, how do you react and respond? It seems to me that it is during those times when we should be the most interested in the movement and ministry and message of the Spirit of the Lord, rather than trying to silence and shut it up. The enemy is at the gate, and the enemy is outside the walls of our nation, and instead of inquiring of the Lord, we choose to shut up the voice of the Lord. It’s interesting and worth noting that when Nebuchadnezzar was outside the walls of the city, and when his army was at the gates of the city, Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison. As you continue on and progress in this prophetic book, you will find out that when the army of Babylon broke through the wall after a breach had been made, they moved throughout the city and came to Jeremiah in the stocks in the house of the Lord. Rather than inquiring of the Lord, and rather than paying attention to and heading the prophetic voice and ministry of Jeremiah, Zedekiah instead chose to isolate and shut up Jeremiah within the city to prevent his movement and operation. Oh how we are guilty of doing the very same thing within our lives, for the enemy and adversary is outside the walls and at the gates, and we choose to shut up the voice and ministry of the Spirit within our lives. Tell me—how free is the movement and operation of the Spirit within your heart and life? How easily do you submit to the work, the word and the will of the Lord within your life? How often do you fight against and resist that which the Lord has spoken and decreed within your life? This particular passages brings us face to face with this reality—one that very few are actively willing to acknowledge and admit within their lives. The more I read this passage, the more I can’t help but believe the Spirit of the Lord desires to speak directly to our willingness to submit when we want to fight, and to submit ourselves to the work, the word and the will of the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord desires to speak to us concerning our willingness to allow His movement and operation to be completely free within our hearts and lives—without and apart from any limitations and restrictions. Oh that we would possess—not only a willingness to submit to the word, work and will of the Lord, but also allow the word of the Lord to move and operate freely within our lives. Despite the natural inclination and tendency to want to limit the Spirit’s movement within our lives, we must allow Him to move freely without any limitations, hindrances or restrictions. The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is calling and beckoning us to come to a place where we quite our fighting and resistance, and when we cease our restriction and limitations of the word of the Lord within our lives. The ultimate question is whether or not we are willing to follow through with such a reality, or whether we will continue to kick against the goads and fight against and resist the Christ.

 In the eighth verse we discover something absolutely wonderful and powerful, and that is the recognition of the word of the Lord when it is before and in front of us in our midst. Jeremiah heard the word of the Lord concerning the purchasing of a field in Anathoth, and when he recognized that what was taking place within his life was indeed and in fact the word of the Lord, he immediately and without hesitation o reservation followed through with obeying that which was before him. Oh that we would see the stark contrast between Zedekiah’s attempt to shut up the word of the Lord, and Jeremiah’s willingness to follow through with and walk in obedience to the word of the Lord. Oh that we would read this passage and understand the dynamics between walking in obedience to the word of the Lord rather than silencing and shutting it up. OH that we would quite our striving, quit our fighting, and quite our resisting the word, the work and the will of the Lord. Let us read this passage with open ears, an open heart and an open mind before the Lord and understand that which the Spirit of the Lord desires to speak to us in this generation.

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